Apr 232014

Thus far, all of the clipboards in my MisterPenQuin Etsy shop have been of the miniature variety, 4-inches by 4-inches, designed to accommodate a Post-it® note pad. Last week, however, a customer asked if I could alter a 6-inch by 9-inch clipboard for her, decorating it with autumn-colored papers and one of my layered flowers. Why not?

Unaltered clipboard

I began by gathering some basic tools: a template for the paper that would fit beneath the clip, a mechanical pencil for tracing around the template, scissors, and an Xacto knife for precise trimming.

Beginning tools

Next came my favorite part: selecting the papers for the clipboard and arranging them in the sequence they would be adhered to the clipboard. I usually use Mod Podge® Matte by Plaid® as a glue. There is a version of this that is designed for paper, but I have not noticed an appreciable difference between it and this version of Mod Podge®. Technically speaking, Mod Podge® acts as a water-based glue, sealer and finish, but I use it mainly as a glue because it’s tacky as a sealer and finish.

Arranging the papers

Once I adhere the papers to the clipboard, I sand the edges. The purpose of this is not so much to remove excess paper from the clipboard, but to “seal” the paper to the edge so that it does not lift up over time. After that, I stain the edges with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain. This is the back side of the clipboard. I don’t suppose you really need to cover the back, but it gives the project a finished look.

Final clipboard 2

To protect the paper from water spills, nicks and clip abuse (that clip grips a paper pad pretty firmly, but when there’s nothing to grip, it acts like a knife on the decorative paper), I brushed it with several coats of an acid-free gel medium, specifically Golden Soft Gel Medium. A gel medium is typically used in collage work, much like Mod Podge®, but the difference is that it’s not tacky when it’s dry, thus it’s great to use as a sealer and finish. I don’t generally use it as a glue, however, because it is definitely more expensive to use than Mod Podge®.

Gel medium

To make the layered flower, I used three different flower dies and my Big Shot to cut the flower shapes. There are so many different ways to make flowers that if you don’t own a die, it really doesn’t matter. You can even cut your flowers freehand, and then simply layer them. To give mine a 3-D look, I curved the petals by using a McGill® embossing stylus and mat.

Layered flower in progress

I applied some glue between the flower layers, and then sewed a button on top. I think it took longer to locate all of the equipment for the flower than it took to assemble it!

Layered flower

I added some coordinating ribbon to the back of the flower, and then attached the finished flower to the clip with adhesive Pop Dots from Plaid®.

Final clipboard 3

Here’s the finished clipboard, which will be shipped tomorrow. It takes a while to complete these clipboards, but it’s a fun process.

Final clipboard 1

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 202014

It’s a beautiful Easter afternoon, a day to stroll through the neighborhood—whether you have visitors or not. I did the virtual equivalent of a stroll this afternoon by visiting BBEST and Blogging Business Artisans team member shops on Etsy, selecting handmade creations that said “spring” to me. I am so thankful that lawns are greening up and that the day lilies are starting to poke up here and there. Tulips and daffodils can’t be far behind. Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates this holy day, and Happy Sunday to everyone else!

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 152014

Included with our most recent water utility bill was a notice for our annual spring clean-up curbside collection. This is always a reminder that I need to assess what craft organization systems are working well, and which ones need to be updated or discarded. For that reason, I love reading blog posts about organizing systems, or magazines such as Stampington’s Where Women Create and Cloth Paper Scissors’ Studios. They are filled with numerous tips.

You’ll recall that in a previous post I described the paper stacking trays I purchased as Archiver’s stores nationwide were going out of business. This tray system is working quite well, and I rate it 4 stars. Next to it is a stack of plastic shoe boxes that store rubber stamps, acrylic stamping pads, dry adhesives and other paper crafting supplies. While the boxes fit in that space very nicely, they have a tendency to lean—and I’m always afraid they will topple. Still, I don’t know what else would fit in that space, and so far this system seems to be working, so I’m giving it 3 stars.


Buttons are one of those craft-and-sewing supplies that seem to take on a life of their own, spilling into every corner you can imagine. I don’t have a lot of space in my paper crafting studio, so I tend to fit the buttons into containers with a small footprint. I use a rotating spice rack for some buttons, and stack round compartmentalized boxes on old CD spindles for others. A wall cubbyhole system holds jars with buttons, as well as other odds and ends. If I had a larger room, I might use a set of stacking mini-drawers you can pick up in any hardware or home improvement store, but with a limited amount of space, these multiple systems work pretty well. I’ll give all of them 4 stars.

Button Storage

Many of my paper crafting supplies defy categorization, so I clip them onto a rotating clip-it rack. For the most part, this system works well, but it does have a tendency to get crowded, and I don’t like the fact that the clips get tangled up with each other, or that removal of items from a clip is sometimes what the British might call “fiddly.” Although it’s a vertical storage system, it takes up more space than I’d like. It was definitely an expensive purchase. This organizing system gets 2.5 stars.

Clip-it rotating rack

I discovered that I had too many adhesive crystals and pearls to fit easily on the above rack, so I re-purposed a tiered brochure holder from the office supply store. It’s easy to organize the supplies into basic categories, is extremely portable, and takes up very little space. Four stars!

Crystals-and-pearls storage

I have stored colored pencils in fabric cases, hinged-lid plastic boxes and in margarine tubs. Honestly, the easiest method of storage is probably the last one, although it’s not particularly attractive. I discovered an unused acrylic canister in my kitchen cupboards that works just as well, and looks better. I like being able to see the pencil leads, so vertical storage works best for me. This system gets 4 stars.

Colored pencils storage

Though technically not located in my paper crafting studio, but instead in my sewing room, this thimble rack stores ribbon wound onto cardboard squares. The ribbon is sorted by color and is visible and accessible—and the system itself is kind of fun to look at. If there is any drawback to it at all, it’s that not all of my ribbons fit into the cubbies and have to be stored in a drawer using a similar organization system. I view this as a shopping issue, however, not an organization one. I rate this system 4 stars.

Ribbon storage

Some of the best storage systems, I think, fit the following criteria:

  • They don’t require you to redesign your entire space.
  • They can be used in multiple ways and in various arrangements.
  • They don’t rob the piggy bank.
  • They don’t gobble up crafting space.
  • They’re not an eyesore.
  • They are sometimes re-purposed items.
  • They’re not so fussy that they get in the way of your crafting.
  • They’re fun!

What storage tools have you discovered that you can’t do without? Can you name some other factors that you consider when you select a storage system for your crafts?

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.